Wednesday, September 2, 2009

King Crimson, Canned Heat

The Secret Museum:
By Jim Webb & Michael Mooney

Brian, Fripp, Gurdjieff & Me

Jim Webb wrote:

Mike -

I noticed in this morning’s news a small piece that said British authorities are going to re-open the case of ex- Rolling Stone guitarist Brian Jones death in 1969. We've read articles before claiming that there was more to that story than was reported, so it wasn't shocking. An hour later I was about to go on the elliptical workout machine and chose the cd Starless and Bible Black by King Crimson to be the soundtrack for this mornings exercise (penance). Through the years I've gone back and occasionally trying to figure Crimson out, but I never have gotten very far. I realized this morning that other than their first record, I just don't like 'em. Very little melody in their "songs", mostly dark, knotty passages to showcase their technical wanking. I remembered while listening to the cd that King Crimson made their breakthrough in July of '69 opening for The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park London in front of 500,000 people. That gig for The Stones was their first with new guitarist Mick Taylor replacing Brian Jones (who had either been pushed from the band, or stumbled out on his own). After Starless and Bible Black came out it wasn't very long before leader Robert Fripp disbanded Crimson in 1974. He was totally burnt out from the last five plus years of touring, and the pressures of leading the group. He wound up joining an esoteric school in the U.K. founded by John Bennett, who had been one of famed mystic, philosopher(charlatan ?) George Gurdjieff's advanced students in the 1920's. Bennett had kept searching for knowledge since Gurdjieff's death in 1949, and set up his own "school" incorporating a lot of his old teachers ideas and methods. I was done the work out and went back upstairs, on the counter was the current book I've been reading - The Struggle of the Magicians/ Why Ouspensky left Gurdjieff. The author in his preface claimed he could have called it - Why Oupensky, Orage and Bennett left Gurdjieff, but it was too unwieldy of a title. I stopped at that point and wondered if this was all just a coincidence, a silly version of the Kevin Bacon game, or was there a synergy of thought to this morning that when "busy" - I might never have noticed. The only other possibility that comes to mind is that I did have a magical piece of cake this morning from The Chocolate Maven in Santa Fe. I'll let you know if there is any more high weirdness later today.
-Jim Webb

Michael Mooney wrote:


I always loved that photo from his What Are We Living For, of Bennett and his wife Elizabeth, taken the day before he died. I’m looking at it right now, and he appears as if he’s found all the answers, is totally at peace and ready to move on. Also, now that I think of it, I believe I borrowed this book from you. Oops!

Last week one of the TV news mags did a piece on the unofficial theme song to the Woodstock Festival, Going Up The Country by Canned Heat. I sat there thinking "I've always liked that tune," and also their earlier hit On The Road Again, but never really got into the band otherwise. I knew that guitarist/ Blues scholar/ soul-of-the-group Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (singer of the aforementioned) died under mysterious circumstances in 1970, and growly-voiced Bob "The Bear" Hite of a heart attack in 1980, shortly after we moved to Los Angeles. I decided it was time to fully investigate Canned Heat. After an hour's research that morning, I determined the place to start was their second LP Boogie With Canned Heat. I wrote the title on a post-it, put it in my pocket, then headed over to my neighbor Julian's house. He'd asked me a couple of times to sort through his album collection and see if anything was of value and/or worth salvaging, and I was finally getting around to it. Out of 400-odd records, only two were from the rock era: The Guess Who's Wheatfield Soul (horribly scratched copy) and a near-mint Boogie With Canned Heat. I told him what I'd been doing just prior to my visit, and showed him the post-it note. This sort of serendipity happens all the time around Julian, so I shouldn't have been surprised. Of course the record’s mine now, and a damned good one, too. Next on my list is Future Blues.

Jim Webb wrote:

Mike -

After forty plus years of being infatuated with pop & rock music I can honestly say I've never purchased a Canned Heat 45, LP, 8-track , cassette or cd. Not that I didn't enjoy their sound, but for some unknown reason there are still good bands that the youthful mind refused to latch onto,and only now in middle age on hearing them do I realize what a grave error I had made in ignoring ________ years ago. I'm gonna get me some Heat.


The liner notes to the remastered 1974 Crimson Starless & Bible Black cd listed the Top Twenty Sounds U.K. album chart as of March 23, 1974

1. Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans
2. The Who - Quadrophenia
3. Bowie - Pin Ups
4. Genesis - Selling England by the Pound
5. Deep Purple - Burn
6. Ringo Starr - Ringo
7. Wishbone Ash - Live Dates
8. Stones - Goats Head Soup
9. Montrose - Montrose
10. Dylan - Planet Waves
11. Lou Reed - Rock n' Roll Animal
12. Blue Oyster Cult - Tyranny & Mutation
13. Alice Cooper - Muscle of Love
14. ELP - Brain Salad Surgery
15. Todd Rundgren - Todd
16. Bowie - Aladdin Sane
17. Lou Reed - Berlin
18. Yes - Yessongs
19. King Crimson - Starless & Bible Black
20. Magma - Mekanik Destruktion Kommandoh
-Jim Webb

Michael Mooney wrote:

Possibly the only sales chart EVER to feature Tyranny & Mutation. Sounds seems around this period to have appealed more to the sophisticated listener than Melody Maker or the NME. No post-glam, Rollers or even Slade. Good list though.

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